Caged by Clutter: Before and After
After a series of family tragedies, Jenni inherited her grandfather's home and moved in. Unable to let go of any of his belongings, Jenni is now buried under a mountain of clutter that threatens her ability to function.
"My dad passed away when I was nineteen. He killed himself. I looked up to him. He was my hero. After my dad died, I was never so alone. And then my aunt passed away. She was forty-nine years old. A year later is when my grandfather passed away. I've already [suffered] so much loss, so for me to get rid of my material things would create another loss within me," she says.
"He has a room in the back," she says. "More often than not he leaves because he doesn't want to be around it. He doesn't like the clutter. We don't talk very often, if at all. We're strangers now."
"Everybody says 'It's your little sister, just make her do it'. It's not that easy...when Jenni moved in, she was supposed to clean it up, but she just sort of transformed it into what it is now. But I don't know how to change it. And I want to see her succeed, but neither one of us were really prepared to be grown-ups as fast as we...it was thrust upon us."
This behavior has not only put strain on her relationship with her brother, it has prevented her from becoming close with others. Jenni's best friend has never even been inside her house.
"When I hear the term storage unit, I cringe. They're a huge weight on your shoulders, they're very expensive, and they should only be used for a very short period of time if at all," says Peter.
"In my living room, there's a pile that I live off of. It's constantly evolving. My bed is in the living room. I understand a bed in the living room is irrational. Normal people don't do that, but...the bedroom is piled high. You can barely walk in there. My house depresses me. It's truly like coming into a cage," she says.
After Peter and his crew help Jenni transform the living room, it is a welcome, inviting space that displays her photography. Also present is Jenni's grandfathers' chest.
"We had a piece of glass cut to protect the top of the chest. Everything that was in this chest, all the memories, all of his things, are still in this chest. He is present here," says Peter.
Before, Jenni's bedroom was a storage room with her and her grandfather???s stuff piled to the ceiling. "It's sad. It's dark. My grandma died. My grandpa died. That was their room," says Jenni.
"I love my bedroom. The vision that Peter and I talked about, that's ??? it's in living color. It's not a storage area, it's not a cage," says Jenni of her new bedroom.
Before, when Peter walked into Jenni's bedroom, everything was buried. "[Jenni] hadn't seen this closet for years...what we have here, all of the clothes on the same hangers, so it creates a really beautiful straight line [and] a shoe rack to keep your shoes off the floor," says Peter.
"Chris and I have gotten closer over this process. It was not about cleaning up my house, it was about cleaning up the past. That is what is healing my heart," she says.
"After two days of hard work, Jenni has not only de-cluttered her master bedroom, her living room, and her storage unit, but she's also coming to terms with the events from her past that created the clutter problem in the first place," says Peter.